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WHAT ARE WE?

Some time ago, I was, as is quite common, listening to my music and the words of one particular song, and not a Christian one, stuck in my mind. In particular just two lines from that song.

        One more day of endless pretending.
        Do we know who we are?
                        Wheeling West Virginia by Neil Sedaka

I thought long and seriously about these lines because they stuck in my head. These words, for a non-Christian song, pose a very serious question - do we really know who we are as Christians and can the world see this?

Sure, there are the old and worn descriptions that most people who have ever attended church at some point in their life can quote to you as something they are familiar with:


Now these attributes are excellent but the Bible brings out some very interesting characteristics that may not be so well known as Christian ones. They are often overlooked or ignored because we can see their counterparts in every day life and therefore may not consider them to be important or even relevant.

These are the things that we are familiar with through our basic senses:


Are we agreed that these are everyday things that are a normal part of our lives?

It is these basics that I wish to touch on now.

1. Christ’s Fragrance

 As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us. To those who are not being saved, we seem a fearful smell of death and doom, while to those who know Christ we are a life-giving perfume. But who is adequate for a task as this? Only those who, like ourselves, are men of integrity, sent by God, speaking with Christ’s power, with God’s eye upon us. We are not like those hucksters - and there are many of them - whose idea in getting out the Gospel is to make a good living out of it.
    II Corinthians 2:15-17 (Living Bible)

This is an interesting use by Paul as we generally tend to think of a fragrance as something that is sweet or nice.

Paul, however, says it is only sweet to those who are saved; to those who are not, the fragrance is, in fact, just the opposite - it is the fragrance of death. Anyone who has smelt a rotting carcase will know just how foul a fragrance this can be, yet to a scavenging animal, this is a most wonderful aroma. We must, therefore, strive to be a fragrance that tells others that what we have and what we are is really good for them.



2. Infectious

We need to be infectious - that is letting people “feel” our presence.

He told them another parable, “The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.”
Matthew 13:33  (Jerusalem Bible)

In this passage Jesus is telling his disciples to be “infectious”, that is, like a virus they must have an affect on all those around them (and so must we). However, Jesus also warned his disciples not to be like the Pharisees who were “infecting” the people in a wrong way (Matthew 5:16:5-12): we must be sure that the way we have others follow us is a way that will be acceptable to Christ and not necessarily to the people around us.


3. A Guiding Beacon

You are a light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on a lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16    (Good News Bible)

We are the light of the world, or as in other passages, we are a beacon, a lighthouse used to guide people. During the 19th Century, pirates would set false lighthouses on treacherous coastline in order to lure ships into the treacherous waters where they would break up and sink. The pirates would then scavenge the cargo. This is not the sort of beacon Christ wants us to be. We need people to be able to look at us and see the correct way to live: the way that leads to eternal life.



4. Flavouring

What good is salt that has lost its saltiness? Flavourless salt is fit for nothing - not even for a fertiliser. It is worthless and must be thrown out. Listen well if you understand my meaning.
Luke 14:34-35  (Living Bible)

This passage generally uses the word salt, but some liberal translations use the word flavouring. Those who cook will know that there are two types of flavouring that can be used:- one that makes the food even more desirable while the other group makes the food bitter and most unpleasant. We need to be sure that our lives “flavour” those around us in a way that is good. Living lives that make people ask what it is that we’ve got that they haven’t. If you like, we need to make them envious of us being Christians.



5. Clear Sounds

Dear friends, even if I myself should come to you talking in some language you don’t understand, how would that help you? But if I speak plainly what God has revealed to me, and tell you the things I know, and what is going to happen, and the great truths of God’s Word - that is what you need; that is what will help you. Even musical instruments - the flute, for instance, or the harp - are examples of the need for speaking in plain English rather than in unknown languages. For no one will recognise the tune the flute is playing unless each note is sounded clearly. And if the army bugler doesn’t play the right notes, how will the soldiers know that they are being called to battle? In the same way, if you talk to a person in some language he doesn’t understand, how will he know what you mean. You might as well be talking to an empty room.
I Corinthians 14:6-9  (Living Bible)

The Bible is full of references about the need for clarity in what we say. It is so easy to be misunderstood and to see the drastic consequences that that can cause. Paul reminds us in this chapter about the need for us to speak clearly, in understandable language,  to those around us. Will we be just a “noisy gong” or will people dwell on the things we say, perceiving a wisdom that is not of this world


CONCLUSION

These are just 5 characteristics of our lives as Christians. Many churchians (that is, people who make the church the centre of their faith and beliefs rather than Christ) have fake copies of these characteristics but if we are to be a flame of Christ then these must be parts of our lives that leave  those around us in no doubt about our salvation. This is not easy and, in fact, we cannot do it on our own. But when the Spirit dwells within in us, the task is already done.

R.J.Burling